Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Orthodontic Treatment

Gone are the days when braces were the sole domain of youngsters!

Since 2021, 1 in 4 orthodontic patients entrusting their oral health and aesthetics to orthodontists have been adults.

This unstoppable wave of adult orthodontics transpires from the words of Alexander F., who sought Dr. Lee’s help to begin his braces treatment and to get a second opinion on his wisdom teeth.

People still compliment him on his dazzling smile years later!

You, too, can enjoy the medical, social, and professional perks of a beaming smile.

Getting started is as easy as scheduling a complimentary consultation with Dr. Lee. Let us handle the rest.

adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces

What are Braces?

Braces are devices used by orthodontists to correct crowded or misaligned teeth and jaws. 

It’s not just about a winning smile. Sure, braces straighten your teeth, but they also improve your oral health. 

You don’t need to worry if you think they’re just for kids or teens. Adults can get them, too! 

Braces might just be the ticket to a picture-perfect smile if your teeth are playing Twister!

adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces

What are the 4 Types of Braces Available for Adults?

The following types of braces are available to our patients, each with their own pros and cons:

  1. Traditional Metal Braces: Stainless steel braces likely come to mind when you think about braces.

    As a result of technological advancements, these braces have evolved to be tinier, more comfortable, and more productive, which explains why they’re still a popular choice for patients.Compared to other types of braces, they deliver results faster.However, some people find the cosmetic aspect and the challenges of brushing and flossing off-putting.
  2. Ceramic Braces: With brackets that match the color of your teeth, these braces are practically undetectable and affordable.Teenagers and adults seeking a low-key look will love ceramic braces.However, they do have some disadvantages — they’re bulkier and tend to stain more easily.
  3. Self-Ligating Braces: In contrast to metal and ceramic braces, self-ligating braces use little doors or clips to hold the wire down, rather than elastic ties. This minor detail makes self-ligating braces easier to tweak. So, if you’re not a fan of discomfort or long dentist appointments, self-ligating braces are your ideal option.
  4. Lingual Braces: This orthodontic tool consists of personalized brackets that are attached to the inner surface of each tooth. Connecting the brackets to a wire helps to move your teeth into position from the inside out. 

A big advantage of lingual braces is that they are virtually invisible, which is great for patients who are worried about their aesthetic. However, they require more frequent and longer dental visits, and they can be hard to keep clean. Plus, they might irritate your tongue and disrupt your speech at first.

What is Orthodontic Headgear?

Using orthodontic headgear, dental professionals can correct alignment issues with teeth or jaws. Picture a brace attached to your teeth that has straps around the neck or head. 

Headgear is often used by dental experts when they need to push teeth and jaws into place. 

The right type of headgear for you depends on your specific situation. The right headgear can correct an overbite, underbite, or narrow jaws, while others can correct misaligned teeth. 

When Should I Choose Braces Over Clear Retainers?

It is true that both traditional braces and clear retainers are fantastic orthodontic options! However, there are some instances when braces are the superior option, such as:

  • Complex Cases: In cases where there are large gaps, severe overcrowding, or significant over/under bites, braces are often best suited.
  • Compliance Issues: Clear aligners need to be worn 20-22 hours a day, so if you’re worried you’ll lose or forget to wear them, don’t worry. Your braces are physically attached to your teeth.
  • Regular Adjustments: Having braces allows your orthodontist to make precise adjustments during your checkups, which is beneficial for tricky dental issues.

What Dental Issues Do Braces Help Address?

A variety of dental issues can be resolved with braces, including:

  • Crossbite: You get this condition when some of your upper teeth bite into your lower ones.
  • Crowded teeth: When your teeth are trying to cram too much into a small space, braces spread them out to give them room to breathe.
  • Gaps: If your teeth are like two ships passing in the night, braces can pull them back together again.
  • Open bite: Even when your jaw is closed, you have a gap between your upper and lower teeth.
  • Overbite or Underbite: Braces can correct these dental issues by aligning your upper and lower teeth so they meet properly.

    How Much Do Braces Cost on Average?

    Braces cost varies based on the type of treatment and severity of your dental issues. On average, our patients pay:

    • Between $5,000 and $6,000 for traditional and ceramic braces;
    • Between $5,000 and $13,000 for lingual braces, and
    • Around $5,500 for self-ligating braces.

    Are Braces Covered by Insurance?

    Despite the fact that most health plans don’t cover orthodontic treatment for adults over 18, they may make an exception for children’s braces. 

    Orthodontics insurance is a viable alternative for those whose dental and health insurance plan does not cover braces. Insurance typically covers up to 50% of a child’s braces cost. 

    If braces are deemed medically necessary, some insurance plans may cover the whole or a portion of the cost.

    The cost of traditional metal braces was $3,407 for insured patients back in 2017. If you have a standalone dental insurance plan, you may have a better chance of getting your braces covered. As part of dental insurance plans, prescribed items like anticavity fluoride rinse may also be covered following the removal of braces.

    How Can I Deduct My Expenses Without an Insurance Plan?

    No worries if you don’t have insurance! You still have options. 

    Your braces can be deducted from your taxes if they are considered medically necessary. It is important to keep track of every penny spent, including the seemingly insignificant co-pays and checkups — they can accumulate over time.Your costs must exceed a certain threshold to qualify for this deduction.

    There are several options for paying for braces, so you might want to consider these:

    • Flexible Spending Account
    • Health Savings Account
    • Dental Discount Plans
    • Personal loans or credit cards
    • Orthodontist-offered payment plans

    Your orthodontic care expenses may be eligible for reimbursement if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) attached to your health insurance plan. 

    Furthermore, you may contribute to your FSA tax-free if your employer offers this benefit!

    You might also qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA) if your health insurance plan has a high deductible. HSAs offer tax-free contributions you can use to cover most medical and dental expenses.

    How Many Hours Per Day Will I Be Wearing Invisalign Retainers?

    You’ll typically be wearing your Invisalign retainers for about 20-22 hours a day. 

    But don’t worry, you’ll get used to them pretty quickly! You can remove them for meals and brushing, and before you know it, they’ll just become part of your daily routine.

    Does the Process of Getting Braces Hurt?

    Getting braces is usually a painless process!

    Over-the-counter pain medications can help ease your discomfort if you experience any pressure or soreness.

    Will I Undergo Tooth Extraction Before Getting Braces?

    Your dental situation may require you to get a tooth extracted before getting braces

    Your orthodontist will assess the condition of your teeth and determine the best course of action for your particular situation, such as if there are too many teeth crowding the mouth, or if there is not enough space for your teeth to align properly.

    How Often Will I See My Orthodontist for Dental Check-Ups?

    A checkup with your orthodontist every 4 to 6 weeks is important in order to keep your braces adjusted and your teeth moving properly.

    Why Can’t I Bite Down With Braces?

    You might be having trouble biting down with braces for the following 4 reasons, especially if you are only a few days into your treatment:

    1. Your Braces are Settling In: It may take some time for you to bite as effectively as you once did with the braces, since they are a foreign presence in your mouth. You might not be accustomed to the new pressure at first. You may notice that your teeth may meet in unexpected places when chewing because of this new arrangement.
    2. Your Teeth are Moving: The tenderness caused by braces is a sign of their effectiveness, regardless of their initial discomfort.

      Even though your teeth are transitioning from their current position to a more appropriate one, they are reluctant to relocate quickly, so you have to gently convince them. Initially, this type of stress is painful, but it becomes less uncomfortable  as you adjust.
    3. Bite Misalignment: As far as your bite health is concerned, the upper and lower jaws should fit together seamlessly. Misaligned bites cause problems like overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, which disrupt your normal bite and make it difficult to fully bite down.
    4. Your Orthodontist Installed Bite Ramps: Orthodontists sometimes install bite ramps to prevent interactions between the top teeth and lower braces when the top teeth come into contact with the lower braces. This way, your brackets are safeguarded from potential breakage when you bite down, assisting your braces in guiding your teeth into place as you close your mouth.

    How Should I Brush My Teeth With Braces?

    It might feel weird at first to brush with braces, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!

    1. To avoid damaging your braces, take your time and be gentle. 
    2. When brushing your teeth, angle your toothbrush 45 degrees towards your gums and brush the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces. 
    3. When cleaning the braces themselves, angle your brush so you get above and below each bracket. 
    4. Make sure you brush your tongue as well!

    What is the Best Toothbrush for Braces?

    Brushing with braces requires the right toothbrush! 

    Many orthodontists recommend electric toothbrushes due to their rotating/oscillating heads, which thoroughly clean brackets and wires. 

    If you prefer manual toothbrushes, choose one with soft bristles and a small, compact head that can reach all corners and crevices.

    When you have braces, interdental brushes are a game-changer because:

    1. They get into those hard-to-reach areas: With braces, there are lots of small, tight spaces that your regular toothbrush might miss. Interdental brushes are just the right size to clean out any hidden food particles.
    2. They protect your gums: An interdental brush removes food particles that may cause gum disease, keeping your gums healthy.
    3. They’re easy to use: A simple brushing motion between your teeth and braces can make a big difference in your oral hygiene routine.
    4. On-the-go convenience: Small and portable, interdental brushes are ideal for quick clean-ups after meals.
    adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces

    What is the Best Dental Floss for Braces?

    Choosing the right dental floss is crucial when flossing with braces. Here are some of our favorites:

    1. Waxed floss: Waxed floss is less likely to shred or break when you move it around your brackets and wires. And, it slides more easily, too!
    2. Floss threaders: Using them is like using needles for floss. With one end threaded through, you can easily guide the floss through your wires!
    3. Water flossers: Water is shot from these devices, getting in between teeth and around brackets — like a mini-power washer!
    4. Orthodontic floss: In addition to a stiffened end, this floss has a spongy side that can be used to clean around appliances and under braces.

    Can I Sleep With Wax on My Braces?

    Yes, you can sleep with wax on your braces

    In order to alleviate the discomfort caused by braces at night, apply wax to the troublesome spots on your braces or to the entire set. One application of wax will last throughout the night, so you can enjoy a restful sleep without the worry of irritation.

    It is possible to swallow wax fragments while sleeping. However, this should not be a cause for concern. 

    Unlike school glue that your kindergarten friends may have swallowed years ago, dental wax does not pose any health risk. Any broken-off pieces generally disintegrate into smaller bits that can safely be swallowed.

    What Foods Should I Eat While Wearing Braces?

    Navigating mealtime with braces is all about picking foods that are gentle on the hardware in your mouth.

    Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet when you have braces:

    • Fruit, such as bananas, watermelon, and strawberries
    • Grilled chicken or fish
    • Hard-boiled eggs
    • Hummus
    • Omelets
    • Pasta with tomato sauce
    • Pizza (without the crust)
    • Rice and beans
    • Vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and celery (cooked)

    With these guidelines, you will find that many of your favorite dishes remain on the menu; they simply require a touch of innovation. 

    A unique culinary exploration awaits you!

    adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces
    adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces

    Can My Teeth Become Misaligned After Orthodontic Treatment?

    When your braces are removed, there is a critical period of adjustment toward optimal dental alignment. Your teeth possess a remarkable ability to remember their original positions, and will move back without hesitation.

    In the initial days and weeks following braces, you will need some extra support to keep your teeth in their corrected positions. One of the best tools for this job is a retainer, a device specifically designed for this mission.

    At first, the retainer may be uncomfortable, but it is your best defense against your teeth’s natural tendency to revert to their former locations. 

    No worries if you forget to wear it for a few hours or even a whole day. 

    However, neglecting your retainer routine for an extended period may seriously compromise the results of your orthodontic treatment, possibly leading to a reiteration of your orthodontic treatment.

    How Long Will I Wear My Braces?

    You can expect your brace treatment to last between 1 and 3 years, depending on the following factors:

    • Severity of the dental issue: The length of your brace treatment depends on whether we’re talking about minor or serious bite issues/crowding.

    • Your age: Children and teens often see faster results because their jaws are still growing and teeth move more easily. Adults have to be a bit more patient.

    • Your diligence with care: The length of your brace treatment will depend on how well you keep your appointments and follow your orthodontist’s instructions.

    Am I Too Old for Braces?

    Not at all!

    Here’s why you’re never too old for braces:

    • No age limit: Adults of all ages can benefit from teeth alignment!

    • Improved dental health: No matter what age you are, straighter teeth can improve oral hygiene and reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

    • Modern, discreet options: There are more inconspicuous brace options, such as clear braces, available if you’re concerned about looking like a teen.

    • Confidence boost: It’s never too late to feel great about yourself!
    adult orthodontic treatment,adult treatment,braces